Sunday, February 12, 2012

P.I. and decaf

Like most people in the world who wear shoes, I put on my running shoes one foot at a time. A lot of times when you read a platitude like that, the author writes something like "I lace up my shoes." But mainly I don't. I have most of my running kicks set so that I can slide in and out of them. My Lunars and Waves work well for that type of entrance. My Cascadias do not, being much too stiff from running through water, ice, dirt, mud, brambles.... Still it is an oddly common unifier to think that we all pretty much without exception prepare to run in much the same manner.

So if the preceding paragraph made you think that this might be a slow week for writing about running, you are at least half right. But I do plan to write about events that surround running. First off: the knee.

If you'll recall last week I mentioned that my knee had a weird rash. Well, newsflash, poison ivy is still virulent in the Winter. I had scraped a vine on a river run, and hadn't even really noticed it. The line of the scrape turned into a massive split seam across my kneecap, while the rest of my knee turned into a blistered red sea. I had done some nice runs last weekend, but that all cam to a crashing halt after visiting my doctor on Monday and being put on steroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, and some salves/balms (not sure what the difference is between those last two). The knee was so bad that I'll probably have a permanent scar.

The result was that I waited out Monday and Tuesday before resuming running again. I did a couple of outdoor runs before the weather turned cold. I've spent the weekend running indoors because, while it is almost healed, I don't want fabric rubbing against the knee. So, lots of Nordic Track and biking have ensued.

What I took away from the experience was to remain vigilant about one of the most banal menaces of trail running. So often, I don't pay a lot of heed to poison ivy. I know I'm allergic, but I see it and I avoid it. But poison ivy doesn't go away. We all know it is all over the trails. And particularly in a warm Winter, it can still make its presence known.

A second 'event' that involves running (and life in general) is that I decided to eschew coffee for the foreseeable future. For me, a former coffee industry exec, this might seem incongruous. I love coffee. I am friends with many coffee company owners, US and Australian barista champions, and industry magazine publishers. But I have been thinking a lot about how I 'use' coffee in terms of dealing with each day, and for sports in particular. I found that for the past 20 years (at least), I probably have had 6-10 cups of coffee each day. That may seem extraordinary (or not), but a cup, if you measure it, really isn't a large volume of liquid. Still, though, that is quite a bit of caffeine. I used coffee to get me started each day. If it was ever unavailable, my mood was severely affected.

So how does this relate to running? Well, as I pondered a good time to slam a gel shot on a run recently, I thought, 'gee, I drink so much coffee I doubt the caffeine component of this shot (which is designed to give you a good jolt) will even be noticeable.' And on some runs, truth be told, I want a shot to be noticeable. I want a caffeinated effect.

So I went cold turkey on coffee. Strangely, the results were minimal; no headaches, not much energy loss, and only mildly lethargic at the start of the morning. I have an herbal tea, some hemp protein powder and chia in my muesli, and get on with the day. I have yet, due to the knee, to try out my theory on a long run, but I plan to do so within the next week. And please don't think I am disparaging coffee. I'm not. As I wrote, I love coffee. I am just taking a break from the sweet sweet brew to become less reliant on it, and in order to test out a running theory.

Finally, I have no swim report for the week. I didn't need to go over to the pool to know that one should not swim in a public pool with a festering, open sore. I hope to get back into the agua by the end of next week.

Until then, Happy Valentine's Day.


  1. Replies
    1. I know! I think I can get it by simply thinking about it.

  2. Crazy P.I. thankfully never had the displeasure of that!! Whew! Good Luck with the Coffee. I'm not a big coffee drinker except after very cold yesterday! :)

    1. I can't believe the time of day you (Indi) went running on both Sat and Sun. That is impressive. I knocked out 5 miles today after it hit 20F. I have had quite a bit of herbal tea and feel pretty darn good.